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Palestinians: United States seeks delay in prisoner release

Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the Presidential Compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, following the conclusion of his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Kerry is visiting Jerusalem and Ramallah to disc
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the Presidential Compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, following the conclusion of his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Kerry is visiting Jerusalem and Ramallah to discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace and to consult Israeli officials about Iran.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Associated Press

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian officials say U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wants to link an upcoming release of Palestinian prisoners by Israel to a framework agreement he hopes to reach in peace talks between the two sides.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, alleged Monday that the U.S. is using the prisoners to "blackmail" the Palestinians to accept a vague framework deal that fails to meet Palestinian demands.

Israel is to release 104 Palestinian prisoners in four stages during the negotiations, with the final two releases in late December and March.

Two Palestinian officials say Kerry proposed to free all remaining prisoners in late January and link the release to a framework agreement. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.